It’s OK to admit that heading into the 2013 season you had no idea who Jose Quintana was. After all, he made 25 appearances (22 starts) in 2012 as a rookie for the White Sox with very middling results (6-6, 3.76 ERA, 1.35 WHIP, 1.93 K/BB). In mixed leagues you surely wouldn’t have paid him any mind. We’re in a different spot heading into the 2014 campaign. Now Quintana must be taken seriously in mixed leagues after a season with a 3.51 ERA and 1.22 WHIP over 33 starts and 200 innings. Should you be targeting Quintana in the coming campaign or is he merely a depth arm to add if he’s floating around in the later rounds?
To start, we really don’t have a lot of big league work to go on with Quintana as he’s thrown just under 340 big league innings. That makes concrete analysis somewhat difficult. It’s even more difficult to get a handle on a guy when his performance in the two season was different in a few major areas. Here’s what we’re looking at.
2012: 3.76 ERA, 1.35 WHIP
2013: 3.51 ERA, 1.22 WHIP
Pretty similar, but those two measures surely don’t tell the whole story.
2012: 5.35 K/9, 2.77 BB/9
2013: 7.38 K/9, 2.52 BB/9
After a rookie season in which he was pathetic in the K/9 mark he added two full batters to his rate in year two. That’s a huge increase and took Quintana from being an embarrassment in the category to a solid starter in the category. Is that 7+ rate sustainable for Jose? Have to think it’s possible given his minor league work that included marks of 7.76 and 7.58 in 2011-12. So did he simply return to his “normal” level in 2013 or was something else at play? Let’s look at his pitch distribution.
2012: 54% FB, 26% CT, 15% CB, 5% CH
2013: 56% FB, 14% CT, 20% CB, 11% CH
* FB = Fastball, CT = Cutter, CB = Curveball, CH = Changeup
He threw his fastball at the same rate.
He was basically tossing the curveball at the same rate.
His use of the cutter and changeup drastically changed though. He doubled the amount of changeups he tossed and nearly cut, see what I’m doing there?, his cutter rate by 50 percent. That’s a significant difference. The change in approach, see what I did there again?, should be seen as a positive. The best way to get batters out is to either (A) change their sightlines an/or (B) change speeds. Dropping that soft ball in there plays very well off a fastball, and that change of pace can really mess batters up. Given that his BB/9 rate was basically the same in year two, it’s possible the Ks hang around.
2012: 1.52 GB/FB, 0.92 HR/9, .299 BABIP, 74.6 LOB%
2013: 1.14 GB/FB, 1.04 HR/9, .283 BABIP, 76.6 LOB%
Some good, some bad here.
There is lots of consistency which is good. The BABIP and HR/9 marks are right on the league average. Nothing great, but certainly solid.
The left on base percentage is high. The league average is about 70 percent, and while it’s certainly possible for fellas to surpass that mark, even consistently, it bares pointing out that Quintana’s 75.7 percent LOB through two seasons is a bit on the high side. That can be seen at least partially, in the fact that his career SIERA (4.16) and xFIP (4.05) are a half run higher than his 3.61 career ERA.
Second, there’s the concern with the GB/FB dip. Even if the K’s are legit, Quintana is not a big strikeout arm. It would be nice if he had a strong ground ball rate to offset that. He really doesn’t. The ground ball mark was pretty good as a rookie at 47 percent, but in year two the number dropped to 43 percent which is pretty much league average stuff.
And that’s pretty much how I would look at Quintana – league average. He’s in the AL an in a park that tilts toward the hitter. He’s also not a great strikeout arm. He’s not a great groundball arm. He’s just — solid, not that there is anything wrong with that.
In 10 team mixed leagues Quintana is not someone to worry about.
In 12 team mixed leagues Quintana can be a reserve round add.
In 15 team mixed leagues Quintana is an intriguing option once the draft hits the mid rounds.
There’s no Cy Young Award coming, no breakout performance. Solid is as solid does.
By Ray Flowers